Yesterday was the 2023 Daytona 500, the first points paying race of NASCAR’s 75th season. After a few attempts at a green, white, checkered and 530 miles later, Ricky Stenhouse Jr came away this years winner.
Had you told me that of all the drivers in the field Ricky would have won it, I wouldn’t have believed you. The thing is that’s kind of a poor assumption because he is typically near the front of the pack when it comes to these types of races. He’s also usually known for getting into wrecks at these tracks as well but he’s always going for it. It’s cool so see him pull it off in what was officially distance wise, the longest ever Daytona 500.
I always look forward to the NASCAR season every year. I’ve been going to and watching races since the mid 90s. My grandpa got me into the sport, watching races, showing me old vhs recordings of past races. In 1999 he took me to my first race in Bristol when Dale Earnhardt wrecked Terry Labonte for the win, a move that was only supposed to “rattle his cage”.
I got into the sport so much I tried to become a part of it. I went to school specifically to work for a race team. I earned a degree in race car technology, along with a diploma in building race engines, and a diploma in building race chassis. I graduated class of 2008, which was absolutely the worst possible timing. Race teams were laying off instead of hiring, and even the few people I did know in the sport had no pull to help me land a job.
For the next few years I would visit race teams every couple of months with my resume in hand. I worked on a modified that ran at Bowman Gray doing mechanic and fabrication work. I help another street stock team with some of their fabrication needs. I built my own 4cyl dirt car to race at a local track, which I had to sale for various reasons. I also took on a fabrication job at sign shop to help improve my fabrication and welding skills while I tried to get into the sport.
The closest that I ever came to landing a job in NASCAR was when I was interviewed for a position in the parts department at Joe Gibbs Racing. Things were looking good for the role, the paperwork was started but as it would turn out I wasn’t old enough for the roll. Time and time again it would seem an opportunity would show up only for it to slip away. Those opportunities slipping eventually led to my career in web development which is a whole other chapter to this story that I may get to in a later post.
I started this by talking about Ricky Stenhouse Jr winning the 500 which is awesome for him and his team. I may not have gotten the opportunity to work on a team, but last fall I did drive his car at Charlotte. One of the most exciting experiences of my life.